Standing alone within an oppressive intensity soaked with a sonic provocation to threaten and rip open thoughts and emotions the intimidation of the ravenous beast loomed over its willing victim.
This is not the opening line to a new suspense novel or the first scene in a horror movie but the scenic description to the effect and power Nil, the debut album from Finnish metallers 0 X í S T, wields with its startling and impressive inventive sounds. Combining the atmospheres and deep breaths of gothic, death, and doom metal into something quite unique and over powering announced as dark metal, the Riihimäki band is a formidable and striking encounter which leaves a lingering mark on the senses with their imaginative and intrusive sound. The new album from start to finish erodes away layers of safety to expose the raw nerves and unwanted shadows of the senses and emotions to equally invigorate and threaten.
Formed in 2008, 0 X í S T (represented for and spoken as zero exist) made their first notable corrosive presence known with their first EP Unveiling the Shadow World which was released in April 2010 by Ostra Records. The four track release woke up many ears to an awareness of the band which built further with their first live shows soon after the release of the CD in southern Finland and Estonia. In August and September of the same year the band recorded a two track demo with songs which would appear on the new album. It came out in 2011 as an extremely limited edition CDr demo in preparation for the full-length album release. The seven track album was recorded in 2011 with its arrival through again Ostra Records in union with Cold Void Emmanations in December of last year.
The album is as dramatic and it is darkly stunning but not in a rising epic sense but in a cavernous and mentally carnivorous stature which unleashes much deeper and further reaching encounters upon the listener and their psyche. The release opens with Old World Vanished and immediately stands against the ear with a weighty and intense breath. The slowly prowling gait of the track lumbers across the senses leaving residues of emotive heft with every black note from guitarist Jani Koskela and challenging rhythms from drummer Mikael Ahlstén. The bass of Ossi Leino, who has since left the band to be replaced by Sameli Köykkä, adds its own predatory and sinister grip fuelling further malevolence to the already overwhelming power of the track. The scarred growls of Koskela are as venomous and intensive as the sounds soaking the air and heart, and combined makes the song an unforgiving yet rewarding confrontation with its acidic melodic prowess and flare.
The title track takes over next with a more energetic hunger yet still unloading a rich but destructive mass upon the emotions to trigger new depths of despair, reflection, and exhaustion. It is a teasing piece of music at times with spoken vocals ringing within the ear in its ‘quieter’ moments of energy before the squalls of malicious enterprise and power assume control of the passions. The track moves into a slow and heavy stalking as in the first but entwines it with a feisty beacon of sonic flames throughout wonderfully.
The likes of the chilling and disturbing Cold Dark Matter and the outstanding Anemone Patens MCCXLIX ignite the passions as mightily as they do the thick emotive cloud which consumes the mind and senses. The second of the two is a sensational piece of invention with little sonic sparks which rub deliciously on the ear as the insistent mass of the track explores every other part of the body. It is a flowing wash of inventive and shifting sonic structures all firing up a dark rapture amongst a wave of different and often opposing feelings. Throughout the album essences of bands like Triptykon/Celtic Frost, and Bethlehem, whisper but in this song for some reason early Killing Joke spoke out though it is not clear as to why exactly.
Closing with the mercilessly crushing Of Wood, Stone And Bone and the melodically persuasive yet annihilatory Shrivel, the album is superb. Everything about it from the impressive sleeve art of French artist YhN, the impeccable production, to the musicianship and sound of the release itself is of the highest accomplishment. Nil is a testing and provocative treat which is as damaging as it is deeply stimulating and 0 X í S T a band taking extreme metal into fresh imposing places.
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